Will Ben McAdams be part of a ‘Democratic wave’ and win Utah’s contested 4th Congressional District?

Nonpartisan election tracker moves Rep. Mia Love’s Salt Lake County-based district from ‘likely Republican’ to ‘leans’ Republican.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah speaks in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, during a commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which abolished slavery in the U.S. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It’s not just political campaigns that think Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has a shot at winning the seat in Congress currently held by Republican Rep. Mia Love.

On Friday, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report said McAdams’ presence in the race and a possible nationwide shift gives Democrats a chance to take the seat that it typically classifies as “likely” to be won by a Republican.

The election handicapper wrote Friday it is seeing signs of a wave building behind support for Democratic candidates ahead of the 2018 elections. McAdams, the group wrote, could be part of that wave, with the 4th District seat it now classifies as “leans Republican.”

“McAdams has built a unique brand as a wonky, nerdy Mormon Democrat, raised over $1 million in past races and cultivated relationships with Republican mayors,” the site wrote in its update Friday.

Indeed, in the recent Draper mayoral race, McAdams endorsed Troy Walker, a former Republican delegate and precinct chairman, in his re-election bid over city Councilwoman Michele Weeks, who in the past ran for the state Senate as a Democrat. McAdams is also working closely with the state’s top leaders — all Republicans — on reforming homeless services.

Still, Cook wrote that McAdams’ most “press-worthy” issue of the year — homelessness — could cut both ways. The Legislature gave him the daunting task of picking a site outside Salt Lake City for one of three new homeless shelters. He chose South Salt Lake, in the 4th District, after several contentious public forums.

Cook also referred to the much-publicized, belated revelation that McAdams “had been moved to act on the issue” after posing as a homeless person over a weekend, staying in the Salt Lake City shelter one night and on the streets another.

“Love is still the favorite, but this is shaping up to be a competitive race,” the handicapper concluded.

Utah’s 4th Congressional District, created after 2011 redistricting, was represented for one term by Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson. Love has won two elections since Matheson’s retirement in 2014.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified the race as one of its targets for next year’s elections, saying the unpopularity of President Donald Trump might make a difference in districts typically won by Republicans.